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The Allegany-Monongalia Staging Area -- 1781-1790

This page was last updated on 7 April 2008 -- rak.

In the family trees prepared by earlier researchers, at least all those we have seen, Monongalia Co, VA and Allegany Co, MD are the only two counties mentioned as birthplaces for the elder children of the Ruggles who migrated into Mason Co, KY.  Actually, for most of the relevant time, what was to become Allegany County in 1789 was under the jurisdiction of Allegany's parent county, Washington Co, MD.

I do not know whether these county names came from family memory or are reported simply because earlier researchers, just as we did recently, found the same Ruggles who moved into Mason County in the records of Washington and Monongalia Counties during the period their elder children were being born.

At any rate, it certainly appears that they got it right.  During the decade 1781-1790, we have found no Ruggles records in any other Maryland or Virginia county.  And we have found records in Washington and Allegany counties for all four of the four senior Mason county males -- John (10000), William (20000), James (30000) and Thomas (70000) -- Jonathan (50000) would not have been old enough during most of the decade to leave any tax record and few records of any other type have been preserved there.  We also have found records there for Thomas (70000)' future in-laws and for Jean (60000)'s future husband. 

Now, the tough-minded will ask: "do you have any proof that these are the same Ruggles as moved into Mason County?"

Although we do not have documentary proof, we now have something which is surely just as good.  Thanks to cousin Roger Carr, and to his mom and grandmother, we now know of the Hardesty information.  The Hardesty book, Biographical Atlas (volume 3 including Braxton Co, WV) was printed in 1882 and would have been researched about 1880.  At that time, he says that Eliza Jane (Rugless) Friend, daughter of James Rugless (of Greenup Co, KY) the son of James Rugless (of England, Maryland, and Monongalia Co, VA), age 85 "was hale and hearty and with good memory" (p.125).  She would have been the source for the Hardesty information -- the best credible source we have found for early Southern Ruggles' information.

According to this information (all on page 125): "James Rugless, came from England to Baltimore County, Maryland, and married ... [later moving] to Cheat River when it was all wilderness, and was drowned in that river, while returning from Baltimore with a load of goods.  James Rugless, his son, married Elizabeth, daughter of Saville and Elizabeth (Ramsey) Harding, who was born in Maryland.  They were married in that State, and accompanying her parents, in 1796, to Maysville, Kentucky, where Eliza Jane, mother of Harding Rugless Friend, was born December 4, 1798."

Cousin Roger believes that the drowning took place at St. George (now in Tucker County, WV, some 60 miles SW of Cumberland, Allegany Co, MD).  He believes that the Ruggles family was then living, possibly living in or near St. George (then known as the Horseshoe Settlement and/or Minear's Fort), or, more likely, some 13 miles on further WNW over the Laurel Mountain Ridge, at Hardin's Cove, on Cove Run and the Tygart Valley River.  He says that this settlement (first established about 1771) was so remote that it was well beyond the reach of tax collectors and census takers, and that it was broken up by Indian raids a couple of times.  I would note that such events could well have occasioned the family moving back to the safety of Allegany County forts for various periods of time.

The Hardesty information, together with the following scattered evidence is, I believe, overwhelming.  

If the Mason County Ruggles did come from Maryland and Virginia as they and their children claimed, they must have left some tiny record of their stay -- and, so far, as mentioned above, the following are the only Ruggles' records during that decade which we have found in either of the two states.  The names available in these few records are a perfect match with those found in NE Kentucky.  If John, William, James and Thomas Ruggles, and Thomas Plummer, and Aaron Freeland of Allegany and Monongalia county did not move and become the people with exactly the same given and family names who settled in Mason and nearby counties, in Kentucky, where did they go?  There is no further trace of them in Allegany and Monongalia counties after 1790 and we have not found them anywhere else -- and we have looked.

So it is virtually certain (99% certain?), that this group of people used the Allegany-Monongalia area as a staging area during the decade 1781-1790 in effect in preparation for their move on into the Mason County area of Kentucky in 1792-1797.

William (20000) Ruggles and Aaron (pa-in-law of 70000) Freman were both listed as members of the Washington County militia, apparently in 1781, having both been listed as members of the Montgomery Co, MD militia in 1780.  Aaron (p-in-law of 7000) Freeland and Thomas (60001, that means spouse of 60000) Plummer were listed as members of the Washington County militia in 1782.  William (20000) Ruggles, Thomas (60001) Plummer and Robert Freeland all owned no land but paid personal property tax in Cumberland, MD  in 1783 (then in Washington Co, later it was to become the county seat of Allegany Co.).  Aron Freeland is on the same list with 5 horses and five cows as well as property: a parcel called Venture -- 36 acres of woods, 2 acres of meadow and 12 acres of cultivated land.  On that same list, owning property, were Benjamin Freeland, Moses and Caleb Lowman, and Jerum Plummer.  

In that same year, 1783, Thomas (70000) Ruggles paid personal property tax in Monongalia Co, VA.  In 1786, James (30000) and Thomas (70000) paid personal property taxes in Monongalia County.  

In the 1850 census, James (21000) Ruggles, eldest son of William (20000) was reported to have been born about 1784 in Maryland and Thomas P. (11000), usually assumed to have been the eldest son of John (10000), was reported to have been born in Virginia, about 1785.  These birth places would fit with the foregoing tax records.  Also reported in the 1850 census as Maryland-born were: John (22000), second son of William (20000), about 1786; Mary (22000), usually assumed to be the eldest daughter of John (10000), about 1788; Nancy (13000), usually assumed to be the third child of John (10000), and Enoch (23000), third child of William (2000), both born about 1790.  Finally, we come to the last pre-Kentucky Maryland record of a senior Mason County area Ruggles: in 1792, John (10000) was convicted of fighting in an Allegany County court.

It it is most unfortunate that the records of this area in the 1780's are so hit-or-miss and not nearly as complete as those for the next decade in Kentucky.  Nevertheless, we keep looking in hope that more will come to light.

It was mentioned earlier that William (20000) and Aaron Freeland (later father-in-law of Thomas (70000), were both listed in the Montgomery Co, MD militia in 1780.  A road from Montgomery County to Cumberland, MD had been completed much earlier.  All of the following information on paths and roads is based on the text and excellent maps in Carrie Eldridge's Atlas of Appalachian Trails to the Ohio River published in 1998.

Ms. Eldridge shows a major trail/road evidently dating from at least as early as 1725 from Alexandria to Winchester, VA.  This came to be known as the "Pioneer's Trail or Road" and later as "Washington and Old Dominion Trail".  People who lived in the area which became southern Montgomery County, MD had fairly easy access to this road the only major hurdle being crossing the Potomac River.  Somewhat later, the British military built a wagon road from Alexandria to Hagerstown, MD.  This road went right through the middle south-east to north-west through what was to become Montgomery County.  Evidently by 1750 both these two roads/trails had been extended to Cumberland, MD.

Evidently when George Washington was commissioned to explore a road through western Virginia and the Forks of the Ohio, he took the Pioneer Road as far as Ft. Cumberland, i.e. Cumberland, MD.  Then, in 1755, General Braddock of the English military extended the road at a width of 12 feet to the Forks of the Ohio at Ft. Duquesne (Pittsburgh, PA).  By 1776 a branch had been developed due west off Braddock's Road through Morgantown on the Monongalia River.  Then all was in readiness for the Freeland-Ruggles-Plummer party to move from Montgomery County to Cumberland, MD and to the west bank of the Monongalia River in Monongalia County, VA.  And they had ready means of travel between the two sites, one in Maryland, the other in Virginia.

Later when they were ready to move on to Kentucky, they had the possibility of two well-developed routes: either the National Road (as Braddock's was then called) or the Monongalia River to Pittsburgh on the Ohio, then down the Ohio to Maysville in Mason County, or just across the River in Ohio.

If the children of the earliest Kentucky Ruggleses had been born in that part of Washington Co. which became Allegany Co. in 1789 but did not leave for Kentucky until 1792 or later, it would be natural that they would have remember their birthplace as Allegany Co.  Especially so, if over the years, they made any trips back to the place of their birth in what would then have been Allegany Co. 

So what of Montgomery County and Ruggles origins?  Click Montgomery Home Base to find out.

To follow these Ruggles Into Kentucky, click on it.

To return to the Ruggles Home Page click: Southern Ruggles Home Page.